Peter Greco is a Toltec practitioner, an artist and a lifelong seeker of knowledge. Greco has mastered the balance between commercial art, fine art and street art without sacrificing his signature unique style. He is also considered somewhat of an anomaly with his soft spoken manner and slight aversion to the spotlight that shines on LA's Art World. Greco's work speaks for him, as an expert in the art of calligraphy, typography and Toltec letterings he blends ancient languages into large scale murals spread across Downtown Los Angeles and the Art's District. Through his thirty year career, "Divine Write" is Greco's first solo exhibition, thanks to vision of LosJoCos Gallery owner, Cynthia Johnson.
"Divine Write" showcases a never before seen collection of esoteric work from Greco's "counterpart" the ancient Renaissance mystic, Gonza Spalato.
Greco/Spalato works explore the depths of the occult and spiritual realms. Ritualistic practices, philosophies and languages are combined blending a myriad of practices ranging from numerology, astrology, Magick, alchemy and science.
With the recent resurgence of occult arts making its way into the mainstream, new generations are discovering pioneers of this movement. Artists, writers and filmmakers such as Marjorie Cameron, Jack Parson's, Aleister Crowley, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Kenneth Anger have led the way for modern day alchemists like Damien Echols, Menton3 and David Stoupakis.
Greco's beliefs align more with the Toltec philosophy, a religion or way of life that hasn't yet hit the mainstream despite its devoted followers. The Toltecs were masters of architecture, art, medicine, engineering, and calendrics. They were deeply religious, and deeply devoted to human sacrifice. Their origins are located in the state of Hildalgo approximately 60 miles north of Mexico City. Toltec literally means "Artists of the Spirit.” To create our lives as masterpieces of art means finding our way out of the limitations and fears of the Dream of the Planet and into our authentic wholeness, happiness, and personal freedom… the freedom to be who we came here to be. It is a journey with no rules and great tools. It is a journey with no destination and endless possibilities. It is a warrior’s solitary journey and best is undertaken in a community. It is, most of all, a journey available to anyone who comes here seeking a road map home.
In preparation for Greco's show (opening Saturday October 1st 2016 from 7pm-10pm at LosJoCos Gallery,) I wanted to better understand his Toltec background, his relationship with Los Angeles' art scene and the infamous Gonza Spalato.
How did you fall in love with ancient languages?
I like old and archaic scripts because they convey the mystery of our ancient past. Each written language has a power all its own. Scripts that are based on Roman or Gothic are the true Power scripts, with the greatest creative potential of expression due to their internal construction.
Your desire to tell a story in a cryptic manner sets you apart from a lot of muralists and writers. What draws you to the deeper meaning of lettering and language?
My Spalato series began as a criticism of academic viewpoints. The manuscripts are presented as collector specimens, but they contain cryptic and unconventional concepts of my own expression. It is all a strategy to hide subversive messages within a greater context. This context also acts as a forum for my calligraphic compositions.
Can you explain what Toltec is and your relationship to it?
Religon is about inner creativity, and impossible to put in words, but good explanations exist. In researching ancient Mexican religion I was shocked by the utter failure of anthropologists to show objectivity. They know nothing about the Magic of those times simply because they choose not to know. I know because I became a Toltec in order to find out. First you read Castaneda then Theun Mares, the recently passed leader of the religion. It is a 800,000 year old Way. The one great universal religion of ancient times, that you hear about, the source of all magical traditions. Toltecs believe that since the purpose of life is to evolve awareness, then it is our challenge to continuously expand our perception and to gain freedom from social conditioning, internal dialogue and static world views. Instead of dogma or theory, Toltec training is based on the sorcerers explanations of the Seers, the same way we base our scientific facts on the genius of our scientists.
Who is Gonza Spalato? How did you first come across his manuscripts and why is it important for you to share them?
The Spalato series began as an Art Center College project in the course “Critical Theory”, to create something with authoritative context and subversive message. Gonza Spalato is my counterpart. Through his work I have explored historical letters and forms and inserted occult knowledge that remains hidden, even when seen plainly.
Why are you so pulled to language, alphabet and glyphs? How did you personalize them?
The glyphs are recreation with some of your personal additive. Soon after the Spalato work began I re invented myself into Toltec, the calligraphy warrior. I have paid my dues ten times over and can claim extensive expertise and mastery of type and letterforms.
Do you think in this day in age the esoteric is becoming more popular and also a reflection of the times we are living in?
It really is the best and the worst of times. We live in an age of great information but there is a blackout of crucial and great information. I believe in the potential of the new generations, truth can not remain hidden from them indefinitely. Evolution must take place because the intent of the unspeakable moves evolution forward with an unstoppable linear force.
Who are the great alchemists that influence you in science and art?
My influences are Gothic era art, Renaissance print works, alchemical diagrams, Industrial Age typography/engraving, Lettering of the 80’s and current calligraphy and lettering that I find on Instagram.
You’ve been in LA for 30 + years as a graphic designer and a "street artist”. What has been the biggest development in this city that you love and that you aren’t too fond of?
I love the designation of “Arts District”, DTLA. It almost feels like a place where artists enjoy a degree of privilege. LA can be very disappointing for an artist. I all but gave up trying to produce beautiful, ornamental, and traditionally inspired lettering art - as a graphic designer. With few exceptions, the business people and developers in LA lack the cultural sophistication to perceive what is truly valuable for the community.
Do you consider yourself spiritual or someone who is more on a quest to uncover the hidden mysteries of life?
I want to discover as much as I can. Life is an endless mystery and we are a part of it, as Beings. We must attempt to uncover it, but should never expect to fully solve it. Toltec writing is a performance driven activity. I plan to record more of these “Not Doings” for a short film. Not Doing involves stopping internal dialogue and slowing down time while engaged in some task. When I write I am prepared to die, as if it where my last act on earth. When it all comes together, the environment responds. Then writing corresponds to and interacts with place and time, for a few precious moments.
INSTAGRAM: @losjocos @petergrecoart
GALLERY INQUIRIES: LosJoCos Gallery 725 Kohler Street, Los Angeles, 90021
￼￼October 2016 hours: Sat-Sun from 2-7p and by appointment